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How Much Exercise is Too Much?

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How Much Exercise is Too Much?

When we’re talking healthy food, the conversation seems to always go back to moderation, but what about when it comes to exercise? Are extreme exercise regimens like CrossFit and distance running as healthy as they’re touted to be?

Not too long ago I ran across an article on CrossFit shedding light on what it called a “dirty little secret.” The gist of the article is that because of the way that CrossFit trainers push clients to push themselves to the limit and beyond, people who do CrossFit have ended up seriously injured. The article talks about the prevalence of a condition called exertional rhabdomyolysis, where extreme exercise causes long-term and sometimes permanent damage to the muscles and kidneys.

The whole thing made me wonder about other areas where we push our endurance, like distance running. I love running, and I love the satisfaction of having run distances. In fact, I’ve touted the joys of distance running in this space more than once. This CrossFit article has me questioning any kind of extreme endurance training: how far is too far?

Related Reading: 3 Running Programs to Push You to the Next Level

I’d never had the distance running issues that some folks report during marathon training, like losing my toenails or losing control of my bowels or bladder, but as I read this article on CrossFit, I couldn’t help thinking that some of the things they say are similar to the addages that go along with distance running, especially the idea that injury is just part of the package. In fact, there is research suggesting that running long distances can take years off of your life.

The way the author describes CrossFit culture also reminded me of Bikram Yoga in some ways. Bikram and other hot yoga methods use a warm room to help relax muscles. It allows you to stretch further, but it also makes you more prone to injury. I practiced Bikram for years and definitely overdid it more than once.

CrossFit, Distance Running, and Yoga: How much is healthy?

Along with doing a lot of reading about these three endurance exercise routines, I also took an informal poll of about a dozen people who do CrossFit (special thanks to my friend Shannon Hoffman Hinderberger for connecting me with her CrossFit friends!).

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Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe is a freelance writer and vegan crafter living in Atlanta, Georgia. Her life’s mission is to make green crafting and vegan food accessible to everyone! Like this article? You can follow Becky on Twitter or find her on Facebook!

83 comments

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8:48AM PDT on Oct 24, 2013

In my opinion, anything you do during the course of a normal day, no matter where you live, is what your body will adapt to. But it will also be ready to 'hit the ground running' if it needs to, and keep it up for short periods of time.So I don't excersize, I just do different activites during different seasons, and stretch to un-kink, and stroll for pleasure .This idea probably won't work for those who think our species is a blight on the planet and that our body's must be beaten into submission and whipped into frenzied guilt ridden and fear based activity.

5:28AM PDT on Oct 15, 2013

Work out the art of balance

8:12AM PDT on Oct 12, 2013

gently does it

2:30AM PDT on Oct 9, 2013

Thank you :)

7:56AM PDT on Oct 7, 2013

I'm pretty sure that are very, very few people out there in danger of too much exercise. Anyone? Did you find this article brought you down from ledge in terms of how much cross-fit you were "already" doing? Or did it have the effect it had on me -- whoa, this exercise thing sounds dangerous ... good thing I'm sitting here, safe and sound, in front of my computer.

5:00PM PDT on Oct 5, 2013

Thanks for sharing

8:19PM PDT on Oct 3, 2013

ty

9:25AM PDT on Oct 3, 2013

thank you

1:19AM PDT on Oct 3, 2013

I have followed an exercise regime for 30 years. It is mainly stretching and flexibility with some strength building exercises. None of them require any special kit, and can be done almost anywhere there is a bit of space. I enjoy the exercises, I never seem to strain muscles or tendons, and they make me feel better not exhausted. Pushing yourself way past your limit is for masochists with a desire for a short term life, not for people who want a long, fit, healthy life.

12:00AM PDT on Oct 3, 2013

Well, pushing your body's limits is probably going to involve pain. It might be helpful to distinguish more clearly between joint pain and muscle pain. There are also different stages of development in the conditioning of a athletic body, which also probably feel different. The muscle pain that a novice weight lifter or runner is going to feel is probably somewhat different than an intermediate or advanced (most of us will never get to this stage of any sport) lifter.

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